This honey lime dressing gets a Southwestern kick from cumin and chili powder for a Southwest salad dressing to perk up everything from a taco salad to a can of black beans. You can make this quick and easy chili lime vinaigrette with everyday ingredients in about 5 minutes.
Homemade salad dressings are simple to make, fresher and more vibrant than store-bought and there are infinite flavor combinations. I should know. I’ve made countless salad dressing recipes that I’ve shared here on the blog, like this Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing, Green Goddess Salad Dressing or this creamy, tropical, Curried Mango Salad Dressing.
Of course, there’s nothing like a simple vinaigrette dressing recipe to perk up everything from salads to steamed vegetables, and this honey lime dressing with smoky cumin and chili powder is no exception.
Table of Contents
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- It’s got sweet, smoky, tangy flavors that hit every part of your tongue at once and are irresistible.
- The fresh lime juice and zest give this chili lime dressing a bright, tangy flavor.
- You can use honey lime vinaigrette on green salads, black bean salads, and any salad with a Southwestern flair. It’s even good on grilled meats and vegetables.
- A little goes a long way; you don’t need to douse your greens. Just a tablespoon or two will do; be sure to toss them well before serving so that each leaf is lightly coated.
- It’s quick and easy to make and lasts for a week in the refrigerator.
- Garlic – I use three large cloves of minced garlic to give the vinaigrette a punchy flavor.
- Lime – You’ll need both the zest and juice to add a citrusy kick to the honey lime vinaigrette.
- Whole Grain Mustard – look for the kind with whole mustard seeds to add pops of texture and a slight bitterness. (We used whole grain Dijon mustard).
- Ground Cumin – this is what makes this Southwestern-style salad dressing smoky.
- Chili Powder – gives the dressing its signature Southwest flavor.
- Honey – Balances the bold flavors and leaves a sweet taste on the tongue.
- Kosher Salt – We like Diamond Crystal as it’s less salty by volume compared to Morton’s. If you use Morton’s, reduce the amount by ⅛ teaspoon.
- Black Pepper – I recommend fresh ground pepper which will be sharper and more pungent.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – to emulsify the dressing and make it thick and creamy.
Did I mention how quick and easy this recipe is? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
- Zest and juice the lime (you’ll need about 2 tablespoons of lime juice).
- Combine the minced garlic, lime zest, cumin, kosher salt, chili powder, black pepper, whole grain mustard, honey and lime juice in a small bowl.
- Add the olive oil a little at a time, whisking constantly until the dressing is thick and emulsified.
If you’ve ever had a lemon or lime that’s so stingy it won’t give up any juice, here’s a quick tip — and something I always do before slicing to get the most yield possible from the fruit:
- Microwave the whole lemon or lime for 10-15 seconds.
- Then roll them on the counter with your flat palm, pressing down on the citrus and using a little muscle.
- Slice in half and juice.
I usually get a full 2-3 tablespoons of juice out of a single lime and ¼ cup from one lemon using this method.
- Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or ⅛ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
- Swap out chili powder for chipotle powder and dial up the smoky volume in your lime dressing.
- For freshness, add two tablespoons of chopped cilantro.
- Add a teaspoon of white or red wine vinegar for an even more tangy dressing.
- Whisk in ⅓ cup of sour cream or Greek yogurt for a creamy honey lime dressing.
- Scale back on the honey if you want it less sweet.
- Skip the spices for a more neutral honey lime vinaigrette.
- For a creamy dressing, add the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
Honey lime dressing has endless variations. A simple mix of honey and lime makes a dressing perfect for fruit salads while adding garlic, mustard and olive oil creates a honey lime vinaigrette that’s great for green salads.
There are about 100 calories per tablespoon in honey-lime vinaigrette, but dressing a salad doesn’t take much. A little goes a long way.
I also have a sweeter honey lime dressing to go with fresh fruit salads that is the best you’ll ever have. Serve it with pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, kiwi, dragon fruit, bananas, grapes, you name it…
Keep the salad dressing in an airtight glass container with a lid (like a small mason jar) in the refrigerator for up to one week. If the honey lime dressing separates, whisk it again to emulsify before using.
How to use the lime dressing:
- Drizzle a few tablespoons of dressing over the greens and toss well with salad tongs.
- Use it as a marinade for shrimp, chicken or beef.
- Cook a cup of quinoa, rice or farro according to package directions and let it cool to room temperature. Add chopped vegetables (we like tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and red onion) and a can of rinsed and drained canned beans. Add a few tablespoons of honey lime dressing and toss well. Serve as a vegetarian main course or side dish.
- Combine fresh diced tomatoes, corn stripped from the cob, diced avocado, cilantro or other fresh herbs and shallots. Toss with 2-3 tablespoons of lime dressing and serve as a fresh summer salad.
What goes with Southwestern honey lime dressing
- Green lettuce salad
- Taco Salads
- Black Bean and Rice Salad
- Southwestern Steak Salad
- Simple Poached Chicken Breasts with a side of leafy greens.
More delicious salad dressings you’ll love:
- Kale Salad Dressing
- Simple Lemon Vinaigrette
- Buttermilk Dressing
- Champagne Vinaigrette
- Green Goddess Salad Dressing
Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.
Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.
We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!
Southwestern Honey Lime Dressing
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 lime zested
- 2 tablespoons lime juice from the zested lime
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt we use Diamond Crystal
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- In a small bowl, combine the 3 large garlic cloves,lime zest, ¾ teaspoon ground cumin, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, 1½ tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Whisk to combine.
- Whisk in 5 tablespoons olive oil a little at a time so that the dressing is thick and emulsified.
- Serve over salads, grilled meats, or to dress vegetables.
Pin it for later!